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Saffron Polenta with Sauteed Vegetables

A simple and satisfying supper that's ready in 35 minutes or so.

5 cups spring or filtered water
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup yellow corn grits
pinch sea salt
2-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon saffron threads

extra virgin olive oil
2-3 cloves fresh garlic, finely minced
1 yellow onion, thin half moon slices
sea salt
6-8 crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 small fennel bulb, stalks trimmed flush to the bulb, thinly sliced
1 carrot, fine match stick pieces
1/2 cup mirin or white wine
3 fresh tomatoes, diced
1 small bunch finely cut broccoli rabe
1/2 cup loosely packed basil leaves, shredded

Prepare the polenta by whisking together the water, cornmeal, grits, salt, oil and saffron in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, whisking constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, until the center of the polenta bubbles and pops, about 35 minutes. Transfer the polenta to a lightly oiled, shallow dish and set aside until firm, about an hour.

For the vegetables, place oil, garlic and onion in a wok or skillet, over medium heat. When the vegetables begin to sizzle, add a pinch of salt and saute for 2 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, a pinch of salt and saute until mushrooms release their juices into the pan. Stir in fennel and carrot, a pinch of salt and saute for 1 minute. Add mirin, tomatoes, cover and cook over low heat until the vegetables are quite soft, about 25 minutes. Season to taste with salt and add broccoli rabe on top. Cover and cook until the rabe is bright green. Remove the cover and simmer until any remaining cooking liquid has been absorbed into the vegetables. Remove from heat and stir in shredded basil.

To serve, either cut or scoop polenta onto individual plates and mound vegetables on top. Serve immediately.

Makes 5-6 servings. 


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